Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 1 March 2016
This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM observed a reduced number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous day. The situation in Luhansk region was relatively calm, with many ceasefire violations related to live-fire exercises. The Mission observed a number of weapons outside holding areas and storage sites – some of them in violation of the respective withdrawal lines. It facilitated and monitored repair works on both sides of the contact line. The SMM followed up on media reports on the alleged blockade of Russian Federation-registered trucks.
The SMM observed a reduced number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region compared with the previous day. Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre during the evening of 29 February, the SMM heard 31 undetermined explosions at locations 7-10km north-west. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard 53 undetermined explosions, multiple shots and bursts of small-arms, light- and heavy-machine-gun fire and 14 shots of anti-aircraft-gun fire at locations 3-10km south, west-south-west and west of its position. In “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard more than 70 undetermined explosions, mostly 10km west-south-west of its position.
Whilst in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions, nine bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and 20 single shots of small-arms fire 2-6km west-south-west, south-west, south-south-west and south-south-east of its position. Positioned in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM also heard three explosions consistent with 82mm mortar impacts and five shots 5-6km south and 1km south-west of its position.
In areas east and north-east of Mariupol (government-controlled, 102km south of Donetsk), including Kominternove, government-controlled Pyshchevyk and Pavlopil (23, 25 and 26km north-east of Mariupol, respectively), the SMM recorded a number of ceasefire violations. For example, positioned in Kominternove, the SMM heard 35 impacts and 12 undetermined explosions, mostly 7-10km north-east of its position.
Among an increasing number of ceasefire violations recorded in various locations of Luhansk region, the SMM assessed a limited number as not being related to training. In government-controlled Krymske (42km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined explosion, multiple shots of small-arms and multiple bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, 2-3km east of its position. Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard four explosions assessed as impacts of mortar rounds and three bursts of small-arms fire 3km north-west of its position. The SMM heard numerous ceasefire violations originating from training areas in “LPR”-controlled Uspenka, Shymshynivka, and Myrne (23, 27 and 28km south-west of Luhansk, respectively); as well as in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM assessed most explosions to be related to live-fire exercises to have been caused by mortar, artillery and tank fire.
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures. The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted one tank (T-64) and four mortar (2B11, 120mm) missing.
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed one tank (T-72) on a trailer heading north-east in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city.
Beyond the withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, the SMM observed one stationary tank (T-64) near “LPR”-controlled Myrne.
The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification.
The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and observed that seven additional towed howitzers (D-30, 122mm) recently observed there were absent.
The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.
In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 11 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), 16 towed howitzers (eight 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm, and eight 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm), 42 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), 26 Addendum-regulated mortars (23 2B11, 82mm, and three PM-38, 120mm) and three anti-tank guns (D-48, 85mm). The SMM also noted four towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) missing from two locations. The SMM also noted as missing 31 Addendum-regulated tanks (T-64) (first noted missing on 17 December 2015) (see SMM Daily Report 18 December 2015).
In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed nine multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS; BM-21 Grad, 122mm) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm).
In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM again observed eight MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) in the vicinity of government-controlled Ivanivka (59km south-west of Donetsk) (see: SMM Daily Report 29 February). On 29 February, an SMM long range unmanned aerial vehicle also spotted, in violation of the respective withdrawal line, two towed anti-tank guns in a government-controlled area near Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk).
Beyond the respective withdrawal lines but outside storage sites, the SMM observed one MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) near government-controlled Krasnoarmiisk (55km north-west of Donetsk); and nine self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) at a training ground near Uspenka.
The SMM observed the presence of other hardware: one armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-80) in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city; three infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-2) and six APCs (BTR-70) at a training ground in government-controlled Trokhizbenka; eight APCs (BTR-70) in government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk); two IFVs (BMP) in an “LPR”-controlled area just immediately south of government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk).
The SMM followed up on an allegation about recent mortar shelling in Kominternove. In the village, several civilians told the SMM that three houses had been damaged by mortar rounds in the evening of 29 February. The SMM saw damage to windows, walls and roofs of the houses and several fresh fragments of recoilless gun (SPG-9) nearby. The SMM also observed some damage that had already been repaired.
The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential infrastructure. In government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM monitored repair works to a gas pipeline. A representative of the Marinka district administration told the SMM that 2,200m of the pipeline had been repaired, while another 900m, located close to the contact line and thus the most hazardous, were still to be repaired. While in the town, the SMM heard six bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 1-3km east of its position. The SMM also monitored repair works to high voltage pylons in “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (30km north-west of Luhansk), and survey and repair works to water pumps near “LPR”-controlled Slovianoserbsk (29km north-west of Luhansk).
At a checkpoint along the contact line, the SMM observed 400 civilian vehicles and 60 pedestrians waiting to travel toward government-controlled areas and 70 civilian vehicles and 30 pedestrians queuing in the opposite direction at a checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka. In the morning hours, at an “LPR” checkpoint near Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 350 people waiting to enter government-controlled areas. When asked the reason for this unusually high number of people waiting at the checkpoint, several people in the queue told the SMM about a rumour of the possible closure of the bridge. Later on, at a checkpoint on the government-controlled side of Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM noticed 500 people waiting to travel toward government-controlled areas.
At the train station in government-controlled Berestove (90km north-east of Donetsk), an employee of the Ukrainian Railway Company informed the SMM that the railway going through the station connected “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city, government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk city) and government-controlled Krasnyi Lyman (110km north of Donetsk). She added that while no passenger trains were operating between government- and “LPR”-controlled areas, cargo trains were transporting coal and metallurgic products.
The SMM visited the border crossing point in “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (40km east of Mariupol), where it noted a calm situation. The SMM observed five civilian vehicles waiting to cross into the Russian Federation.
The SMM followed up on media reports that activists had blocked cargo trucks registered in the Russian Federation on the highway connecting Kyiv and Chop (205km south-east of Lviv, Zakarpattia region) in Lviv region. In Hamaliivka (10km north-east of Lviv), the SMM saw an improvised checkpoint and a tent with a Svoboda party flag. Four activists (one woman and three men) present, who introduced themselves as members of the Svoboda party, told the SMM that they were monitoring the movement of trucks registered in the Russian Federation. The SMM also noted two trucks with Russian Federation registration plates (facing west) standing along the road 50m west of the checkpoint. The drivers of the trucks stated that they had waited for 20-30 minutes to pass the checkpoint while the activists recorded their license plates and contacted their supervisors. They added that they were heading to Romania.
The SMM also visited the Ukraine-Belarusian border crossing point in Novi Yarylovychi (179km north of Kyiv, Chernihiv region), where it observed a calm situation. Officers of the State Border Guard Service and Fiscal Service told the SMM that in Chernihiv region there have been no blockades of cargo trucks registered in the Russian Federation, adding that the weekly number of cargo trucks registered in the Russian Federation passing the border crossing points in the region from Belarus to Ukraine during the last week was up to ten.
In Kyiv, the SMM observed a public gathering organized by the non-governmental organization, Azov Civil Corps. The SMM observed approximately 150 members (mainly men aged 20-30) protesting against the detention of the leader of the non-governmental organization Azov Civil Corp Crimea, marching from the Dynamo stadium to the detention facility of the Security Service of Ukraine. When the participants approached the detention facility, about 20 of them lit flares in their hands. The SMM saw four mobile detention trucks with police officers parked nearby. The march ended peacefully when the participants dispersed. Later in the day, the SMM also monitored the court hearing of the detained leader of Azov Civil Corps Crimea at Shevchenkivskyi district court. It noted the detained was taken to the court with a visible bruise on his face. The SMM saw 100 activists with Azov Civil Corps flags gathering outside of the court and an additional 100-150 supporters were in the court building on different floors. Approximately 100 National Guards and riot police officers were outside the court.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, and Chernivtsi.
*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including mine threats, damaged infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the situation in Donbas.
- At a “DPR” checkpoint close to Oleksandrivka, armed men insisted on inspecting trunks of SMM vehicles.